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Are Your Eyes Sensitive To Light? Consider Scleral Lenses!

Are Your Eyes Sensitive To Light 640×350For some people, standard soft contact lenses are a great way to conveniently correct vision. For those with very dry eyes or corneal conditions like keratoconus, standard contacts simply aren’t an option.

Scleral contact lenses, however, are a great alternative for these patients with hard-to-fit eyes. They provide several benefits, such as reducing sensitivity to light (photophobia).

What Does Light Sensitivity Feel Like?

Patients with keratoconus and other corneal conditions tend to experience discomfort or unclear vision in brightly lit environments, even after undergoing treatment for their conditions.

They may see halos around lights while driving or may not be able to drive at all due to the worsening or clouding of vision that comes with light sensitivity. Bright fluorescent lights, like in an office setting, can trigger eye pain and interfere with their productivity and creativity.

Moreover, a photophobic person may not be able to comfortably look at a computer screen or other digital device. Even with the brightness setting turned all the way down, the light that’s emitted from the screen may be too intense.

How Can I Reduce Light Sensitivity?

While implementing the following suggestions can ease your symptoms of light sensitivity, we recommend that you speak with your optometrist for a more personalized approach.

  • Try to stay out of the sun whenever possible, but when you do go outside, wear dark sunglasses to block out the light.
  • Consider installing filters on fluorescent light sources.
  • Take frequent breaks when using a digital device.
  • Reduce glare in your home by turning mirrors away from light sources and keeping windows clean and streak-free. You may want to consider removing reflective surfaces from your home altogether.
  • Speak with your optometrist about whether scleral contact lenses can help you.

What are Scleral Contact Lenses?

Scleral lenses are larger in diameter than standard lenses and rest on the white part of the eye (sclera). Their large surface area vaults over the entire cornea (the eye’s top layer), and thus avoid placing pressure on the sensitive corneal tissue.

The scleral lens holds a reservoir of nourishing fluid between the inside of the lens and the surface of the eye, providing visual clarity and optimal comfort. In fact, many patients report that they are able to wear scleral contacts for longer amounts of time as compared to standard contacts.

Scleral lenses are customized to fit each individual eye, and are suitable for patients with keratoconus, dry eye syndrome, irregular/excessive astigmatism, Sjorgen’s syndrome, other corneal abnormalities and for those having undergone LASIK surgery.

How Do Scleral Lenses Reduce Light Sensitivity?

Light sensitivity, or photophobia, is a common side effect of several eye conditions, such as dry eye syndrome and keratoconus. When the cornea is irregularly shaped, it doesn’t properly reflect light onto the retina, which can lead to light sensitivity.

Thanks to their unique and customized design, scleral lenses act as a new, accurately curved cornea that is able to reflect light in a healthy way. Because of their large diameter, scleral lenses are more stable and have a wider optic zone than other lenses. They offer a more accurate perception of peripheral vision and help minimize glare and sensitivity.

An irregularly shaped cornea is not the only reasons one experiences photophobia. In fact, there are several conditions that can cause it. Your optometrist will determine what’s causing your discomfort through a comprehensive eye exam and will determine whether scleral lenses are the optimal solution for you.

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Ave Maria, and throughout Florida.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: How long does it take to adjust to scleral contact lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses are usually very comfortable right off the bat, but some patients may find that it takes up to 10 days to get used to the lenses. Your optometrist will guide you on how to shorten the adjustment period.

Q: How long do scleral contact lenses last?

  • A: Under normal conditions, scleral lenses last between 1 and 3 years — far longer than standard lenses. Your tear film composition and your lens care habits will influence your lenses’ lifespan.
Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 239-908-4098

Do You Struggle With Contact Lens Comfort? Scleral Lenses May Be the Answer!

boy wearing a gray hoodie 640Most people are familiar with traditional soft lenses, which provide clear vision for those who are nearsighted or farsighted.

In certain cases, particularly for those with corneal irregularities or astigmatism, standard gas permeable (GP) lenses may be recommended. However, people with several eye conditions can’t tolerate standard GPs and find scleral lenses a much better, more comfortable alternative.

What are Scleral Lenses?

Patients with sensitive eyes or corneal abnormalities may benefit from custom-designed scleral lenses, which provide crisp vision and comfort thanks to their unique design.

Scleral lenses are usually recommended for those with keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, astigmatism or anyone who find it difficult or impossible to wear standard contact lenses.

Scleral lenses are large gas permeable lenses that vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye, instead of the cornea. This creates a new optical surface and prevents corneal irritation. Furthermore, a reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea keeps the eye hydrated all day long.

Benefits of Wearing Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses provide comfort, visual acuity and stability.

Stable Vision

With scleral lenses, you’ll experience continual clear vision. Because of their wide diameter, the lenses remain centered on your eye. Even if you play sports or lead an extremely active lifestyle, scleral lenses will stay in place and won’t easily pop out.

Long-Lasting Lenses

These gas permeable lenses are made of high-quality long-lasting materials. As a result, scleral lenses usually last between 1-2 years. While the initial cost of scleral lenses is higher than the cost of regular contacts, they give you more bang for your buck.

Safe and Easy-to-Use

Scleral lenses are easier to insert and remove from your eyes than regular GP lenses, thanks to their large size and rigid material. This also limits the risk of damaging your cornea while handling your lenses.

Comfort for Dry Eyes

It’s not uncommon for certain contact lens wearers to suffer from eyes that feel dry, red, itchy, uncomfortable, and at times very painful. Eye drops and artificial tears can deliver relief, but they are no more than a temporary solution.

One of the best contact lenses for optimal comfort and hydration are scleral lenses, as they simultaneously provide vision correction, protect the eyes, and lubricate them.

If you’ve experienced discomfort while wearing regular contact lenses, you may have keratoconus, irregular corneas, dry eyes or hard-to-fit eyes. Find out whether custom-designed scleral lenses are right for you by scheduling an eye exam at Dr. Ray C. Whetstone today!

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Ave Maria, Florida and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: Can you sleep with scleral lenses?

  • A: It’s not recommended to wear scleral lenses while you sleep. Sleeping with your scleral lenses on can cause the tear layer behind the lens to become stagnant, thus increasing the risk of eye infections.

Q: Are scleral lenses more comfortable than standard gas permeable lenses?

  • A: Scleral lenses provide clear vision and long-term comfort for those with irregularly shaped corneas. This is due to their unique design that covers a wider area of the eye while avoiding direct contact with the cornea.

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Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 239-908-4098

What’s a Chalazion?

What is a Chalazion 640Finding a lump on your eyelid can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Luckily, a chalazion isn’t a serious condition and is rather simple to resolve.

In most cases, a chalazion can easily be treated and will completely disappear following treatment. However, if non-invasive treatments don’t work, your eye doctor may need to remove it through an in-office surgical procedure.

At Whetstone Eye Care we can diagnose and help treat your chalazion so that you can see comfortably.

What is a Chalazion?

A chalazion, also known as a meibomian cyst, is a small fluid-filled cyst.

Eyelids contain meibomian glands, which produce oil to lubricate the surface of the eye. When one of these glands becomes blocked, it may cause swelling and lead to a small painless lump called a chalazion.

What Causes a Chalazion?

A chalazion occurs when the gland in the eyelid is clogged. Exactly why the gland becomes clogged isn’t known, but some individuals appear to be more susceptible to developing a chalazion than others.

A chalazion may be associated with dry eye syndrome, which is often caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.

People exhibiting certain risk factors are more likely to develop a chalazion. This includes people who have:

  • Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids
  • Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye
  • Thicker oil or meibum than normal consistency
  • Ocular rosacea, a skin condition adjacent to the eyes
  • Seborrhea, or dandruff, of the eyelashes
  • Styes or a history of styes

What Are the Symptoms of a Chalazion?

Common symptoms of a chalazion include:

  • A bump on the eyelid that sometimes becomes swollen and red
  • An entirely swollen eyelid, although very rare
  • Vision issues (such as blurred vision) if the chalazion becomes large enough to press on the eyeball

While a chalazion is not an infection, it may become infected. In the rare event that this occurs, it may become red, more severely swollen, and painful.

Chalazia are often mistaken for styes since they have a similar appearance.

What’s the Difference Between a Chalazion and a Stye?

It can be difficult to differentiate a chalazion from a stye.

Styes develop along the edge of your eyelid and can at times be seen at the base of an eyelash. In contrast, chalazia usually occur closer to the middle of the eyelid. A stye is more likely to be painful and tends to have a yellowish spot at the center that may burst after a few days.

Basically, the most noticeable difference between a chalazion and a stye is that a chalazion tends to be painless while a stye is usually painful and may cause the eye to feel sore, itchy or scratchy.

How to Treat a Chalazion

Most chalazia require minimal medical treatment and some may even clear up on their own in a few weeks to a month. When a chalazion first appears, you can try doing the following for 1-2 days:

  • Apply a warm compress to the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes, 4 to 6 times a day. The warm compress helps soften the hardened oil that blocks the ducts, allowing drainage and healing.
  • Gently massage the external eyelids for several minutes each day to help promote drainage.

If the chalazion does not drain and heal within a few days, contact your eye doctor. Don’t attempt to squeeze or pop the chalazion, as it may inadvertently cause more damage.

To learn more about chalazion treatment and the other eye care services we offer, call Whetstone Eye Care to schedule an appointment.

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Ave Maria, Florida and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: Can a chalazion spread from one person to another?

  • A: Since a chalazion is not an infection, it cannot spread from one person to another or even to the other eye of the affected person.

Q: Can a chalazion affect my eyesight?

  • A: A chalazion doesn’t affect vision. In rare cases, if the lump is large enough to distort the ocular surface it can cause temporary astigmatism, blurring vision. However, vision will return to normal once a medical professional removes the chalazion or once it diminishes in size.

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Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 239-908-4098

Can People With Dry Eye Syndrome Wear Eye Makeup?

Eye Makeup 640×350If your eyes feel dry and irritated after wearing eyeliner—you aren’t alone. Many patients report symptoms of dry eye syndrome after rocking a smoky eye look, especially for extended periods of time.

The good news is those makeup lovers who have dry eye syndrome can continue to put their best face forward with the guidance of their dry eye optometrist.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic lack of ocular hydration that can be caused by several factors, including genetics, environmental irritants, allergies, certain medical conditions, specific medications and hormonal fluctuations.

Symptoms of DES may include:

  • Burning eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucus around the eyes
  • Discomfort while wearing contact lenses
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Eyes that ache or feel heavy

DES treatment depends on the underlying cause of the problem. Your dry eye optometrist will thoroughly evaluate your eyes to find and treat the source of your symptoms.

Can Eyeliner and Other Eye Makeup Cause Dry Eyes?

Our eyes are lined with tiny glands, known as meibomian glands, at the edge of both the upper and lower eyelids that secrete nourishing oils into our tears to help prevent premature tear evaporation. Any blockages or irritation in these glands can lead to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), a leading cause of dry eye symptoms.

A recent study published in The Journal of Cornea and External Disease found that the regular use of eyeliner can cause the tear film to become unstable as the eyeliner can clog these small meibomian glands.

An important measurement, known as tear film breakup time, was much lower in the eyeliner-wearing group in the study, indicating that their tears evaporated more quickly. The same group also had reduced meibomian gland function and more symptoms of MGD.

The good news is that you can still wear eyeliner and other eye makeup products, despite having dry eyes. Here’s how:

Tips for Safely Wearing Eyeliner With Dry Eyes

  1. Only use eye makeup products that are intended for use around the eye area.
  2. Keep your makeup and applicators clean. Sharpen your eyeliner pencil and clean your brushes before each use to avoid contamination.
  3. Replace your eye makeup as often as recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Never share your makeup with friends or family members.
  5. Avoid liners or shadows with glitter, as the particles can easily disrupt your tear film.
  6. Try to stick to cream-based products for the least amount of irritation.
  7. Apply eye makeup to the outside of your eyelashes. Lining the inner rim of your eyelids can clog or irritate the meibomian glands.
  8. Be diligent about eye hygiene. Always thoroughly wash your face and eyes before bed with eye-safe cleaning products.
  9. Visit your dry eye optometrist!

Our Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

At Whetstone Eye Care, we know that our patients want to look and feel their best. That’s why we tailor your dry eye treatment to suit your lifestyle and needs.

If you or a loved one suffers from symptoms of DES to any degree, we can help. Our optometric team will determine the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and offer the relief you seek.

To schedule a dry eye consultation, comtact Whetstone Eye Care today!

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Ave Maria, Florida and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: Are there any vitamins I can take to prevent or relieve dry eye disease?

  • A: Yes, certain foods help the eyes stay properly hydrated. Specific vitamins, fatty acids and trace elements are good not only for our overall health but also for our tear film. These include Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, B, C, E, as well as Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

Q: Is dry eye syndrome dangerous for eye health?

  • A: When chronic dry eye isn’t treated, several eye conditions can occur: pink eye (conjunctivitis), keratitis (corneal inflammation) and corneal ulcers. DES can also make it difficult or impossible to wear contact lenses, cause difficulty with reading and trigger headaches.

 

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 239-908-4098

6 Reasons Scleral Lenses Can Manage Your Dry Eye Syndrome

6 Reasons Scleral Lenses Can Manage Your Dry Eye Syndrome 640×350If your eyes are chronically itchy, dry, red or irritated, there’s a good chance you have dry eye syndrome.

Eye drops and artificial tears may provide temporary relief, but they often don’t help individuals with chronic or severe dry eye syndrome. That’s why so many people seek out other treatment options.

One such option is scleral lenses. Although custom-made scleral contact lenses are widely used to correct corneal abnormalities and refractive errors, they can also help patients with intractable dry eye symptoms. Here’s why:

1. Scleral lenses don’t irritate the cornea

Standard contact lenses are typically not an option for people who need vision correction and also have persistent dry eye syndrome. Standard soft lenses sit on the cornea, which can be exceedingly irritating. In contrast, scleral lenses vault over the cornea and sit on the sclera (the white of the eye). The lenses do not come into contact with the corneal surface, reducing discomfort.

2. The scleral lens design ensures constant hydration of the eye

Thanks to sclerals’ unique design, saline solution fills the space between the surface of the cornea and the scleral lens. This provides the eyes with constant hydration. To help lubricate and promote healing of the ocular surface, artificial tears and antibiotics can be administered to the lens’ bowl prior to insertion.

3. Scleral lenses protect the cornea

Dry eye syndrome makes the corneas more susceptible to injury. Due to the mechanical friction of the eyelids on the cornea, even something as basic as rubbing the eye or even blinking can exacerbate any current corneal damage. Sclerals can act as a barrier between a patient’s eyes and their eyelids, as well as the outside environment.

4. Sclerals allow the eye to regain a healthier appearance

Dry eye patients frequently present with eyes that are red or bloodshot. Scleral lenses perform a therapeutic role by providing a shield from the outside world and ensuring a constant supply of hydration. The redness will begin to dissipate once the eyes receive enough moisture.

5. Patients can continue using artificial tears and eye drops while wearing scleral lenses

Patients can continue to moisten their eyes with preservative-free eye drops or artificial tears while wearing scleral lenses. With that said, many patients discover that after they start wearing scleral lenses, they can reduce the frequency of artificial tear use. Some need eye drops only at night, after they have removed their lenses.

6. Scleral lenses can dramatically improve quality of life

Patients with dry eye syndrome can feel worn down by the almost constant discomfort and eye fatigue, not to mention looking tired all the time due to eye redness.

For patients who have suffered from severe dry eye syndrome for months or years, finding relief while enjoying clear and comfortable vision definitely boosts their quality of life.

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome and have been looking for a more effective treatment option, ask Dr. Ray C. Whetstone about scleral lenses. Call Whetstone Eye Care today to schedule your consultation and learn more about these special lenses.

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Ave Maria, Florida and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: What are scleral lenses?

  • A: Scleral contact lenses are gas-permeable lenses that sit on the sclera (the white area of the eye) and form a dome over the cornea. This dome forms a new optical surface over the injured, uneven or dry cornea, allowing for sharper and more comfortable vision.

Q: How long do scleral lenses last?

  • A: These rigid gas permeable contacts are made of high-quality, long-lasting materials and typically last 1-3 years. While scleral lenses are more expensive than standard contact lenses, they’re a worthwhile investment, particularly for those with hard-to-fit eyes, keratoconus, astigmatism or dry eye syndrome.

Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 239-908-4098

Blinking Exercises

Blinking Exercises 640×350Did you know that the average person spends around 7 hours per day looking at a screen? Unfortunately, the glare and reflections from computer, smartphone, and tablet screens can reduce blink rates by 60-80%. When we concentrate intensely we blink less, and as our eyes are constantly trying to focus on the screen pixels, this leads to eye strain.. If your eyes feel dry, irritated or are red, you may have dry eye syndrome.

Don’t worry! There’s a simple set of eye exercises you can perform each day to help relieve your dry eye symptoms.

Blinking Exercises

Blinking exercises are a great way to keep your eyes lubricated and refreshed. They’re also simple to do and can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine. These exercises should be done a few times an hour. Try alternating between the 2 exercises below.

1. Close-Pause-Pause-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, close your eyes gently.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  4. Repeat 5 times

2. Close-Pause-Pause-Squeeze-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, close your eyes gently.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. While keeping your eyes closed, squeeze your eyelids together slowly and gently.
  4. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  5. Repeat 5 times

The Importance of Fully Blinking

It’s important to fully blink in order to completely re-lubricate your eyes. If you’re only partially blinking it can make your dry eye symptoms worse.

To find out if you are fully blinking, when your eyes feel dry or appear red, have a look in the mirror. If you see a horizontal stripe of red blood vessels across your eyes, then you have only been partially blinking.

Another possible option is to gently place your index fingers at the corner of your eyes, near your temples, and blink normally. If you feel your muscles and skin move beneath your fingers, then you are not fully blinking. When you fully blink you shouldn’t feel movement under your fingertips.

If you’ve incorporated the blinking exercises into your routine, but you’re still experiencing eye irritation, you may have dry eye syndrome. We can diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms, and offer a variety of dry eye treatments to alleviate them. Schedule an eye exam with Whetstone Eye Care and receive effective, long-lasting relief.

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from , Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Ave Maria, throughout Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome is caused either by insufficient tears or poor tear quality. Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy. If your tears don’t keep the surface of your eye moist enough, you will experience dry eye symptoms. Some medical conditions, certain medications, dysfunctional glands, allergies and environmental irritants can all cause dry eye symptoms.

Q: What are dry eye symptoms?

  • A: Symptoms of dry eye include irritation; a gritty, scratchy or burning sensation; blurred vision; excessive tearing; and/or a feeling of something stuck in the eye.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 239-908-4098

5 Common Keratoconus Questions, Answered

5 Common Keratoconus Questions, Answered 640If you’re reading this, you or someone you care about may have been recently diagnosed with keratoconus. We’ve compiled a few commonly asked questions about keratoconus to help you understand what it is, what causes it, and how your eye doctor can help.

1. What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a progressive, non-inflammatory disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge, resulting in a cone-shaped cornea. Over time, this bulge leads to myopia and irregular astigmatism, and vision becomes progressively distorted. Ongoing treatment is crucial to prevent significant vision loss.

2. What Are the Symptoms of Keratoconus?

Many patients aren’t aware that they have keratoconus, which typically begins during the teenage years.

Symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Blurry vision
  • Halos and glare around lights
  • Increased sensitivity to bright light
  • Headaches or eye irritation associated with eye pain
  • Progressively worsening vision that’s not easily corrected

3. What Causes Keratoconus?

While there is no one cause of keratoconus, a paper published in Biomed Research International (2015) identified these risk factors:

  • Genetics. About one in 10 people with keratoconus also has a family member with the condition.
  • Inflammation. Irritation and inflammation from allergies, asthma and other atopic eye diseases can lend to the development of keratoconus.
  • Frequent eye rubbing. Intense and frequent eye rubbing is thought to thin out the cornea and can worsen the condition.
  • Underlying disorders. Keratoconus has been associated with several conditions, including Down syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Leber congenital amaurosis, Marfan syndrome and Osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • UV light. UV light can cause oxidative stress, which weakens the corneas in predisposed eyes.
  • Weak collagen. In a healthy eye, small protein fibers called collagen help keep the cornea in a dome-like shape and free from bulges. In the case of keratoconus, the collagen fibers become weak and therefore can’t maintain the shape of the eye, which causes the cornea to bulge.

4. How Is Keratoconus Treated?

Scleral lenses are the most common and successful treatment for patients with keratoconus. These are specialized rigid, gas permeable contact lenses that have a very wide [diameter] and vault over the entire corneal surface, making them effective and comfortable for people with keratoconus.

5. Is There a Cure for Keratoconus?

Currently, there is no cure for keratoconus. However, in most cases, it can be successfully managed.

For mild to moderate keratoconus, scleral contact lenses are typically the treatment of choice, as they provide clear, comfortable vision.

A relatively non-invasive procedure called corneal cross-linking (CXL) can stabilize and strengthen a thinning and irregularly shaped cornea.

At Whetstone Eye Care, we can recommend the best treatment options for your keratoconus, to help preserve your vision, and ensure the highest level of comfort and visual acuity. Call to schedule an appointment to start discussing your keratoconus treatment options.

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Ave Maria, all throughout Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: Can You Go Blind If You Have Keratoconus?

  • A: Keratoconus does not typically cause total blindness. However, as keratoconus progresses it can cause visual impairment including blurred distance vision, distortion, glare, astigmatism, extreme light sensitivity and even vision loss that can be classified as “legal blindness.

Q: Does keratoconus affect both eyes?

  • A: Yes, in approximately 90% of keratoconus cases, the disease will manifest in both eyes. However, the rate of progression and the timing of the onset of the disease is different for each eye.
Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 239-908-4098

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Dry Eye Syndrome?

girl sitting in the pool 640×350Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. Sometimes the meibomian glands inside your eyelid, which produce the oily layer of your tears, don’t function properly or are blocked, causing your tears to dry out. Environmental factors, some medical conditions and certain medications can also cause dry eye syndrome.

Tears are essential for maintaining eye health and comfort. They moisten your eyes and remove debris. In severe cases, untreated dry eye syndrome can actually damage your cornea and cause vision loss.

The amount of dryness varies in severity from person to person. If you have a minor case of dry eye, you may be able to manage it with over-the-counter eye drops. However, if the problem persists or appears to be getting worse, it’s time to visit your [eye-doctor], who will assess your eyes, find the underlying problem and begin treatment.

Here are some of the complications that can occur when chronic dry eye syndrome isn’t treated:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is the infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva — the clear layer of cells that covers the white part of your eyeball and the inner surface of your eyelids. Symptoms include grittiness, redness and sensitivity to light.

Keratitis

Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea. It can be caused by different types of infections, abnormalities of the eyelids, injury, and dry eye. If the deeper layers of the cornea are involved it can lead to scarring or a corneal ulcer, if left untreated.

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an open sore that develops on the cornea, the clear, protective outer layer of your eyes.

While corneal ulcers typically occur after an injury, they can also be caused by severe dry eye.

Here’s why:

Debris like dirt and sand particles can enter your eyes and scratch the surface of the cornea. When your tear glands don’t produce enough tears to wash away the particles, bacteria can infect the scratch and cause an ulcer.

Luckily, corneal ulcers are treatable with antibiotic eye drops. But unless they are treated, these ulcers can spread and scar the eyeball, causing partial or complete blindness.

Inability to wear contact lenses

Unless your eyes produce enough good-quality tears, your contact lenses can become overly dry, leading to a gritty sensation, irritation and redness.

Without sufficient moisture, your contacts may stick to your eyeball, making it difficult to remove them. Chronic dry eye syndrome may prevent you from wearing standard contact lenses.

However, there are certain specialized contact lenses that can help lubricate your eyes.

Difficulty keeping your eyes open

Depending on the severity of dry eye, it may be difficult to keep your eyes open. This can occur if dry eye syndrome leads to extreme light sensitivity or the sensation that something is in your eye.

While artificial tears may provide enough moisture to partially open your eyes, you may still feel the need to squint, especially when exposed to a computer screen or sunlight.

Difficulty reading or driving

While blurry vision can be a sign that you need a stronger prescription for your glasses or contacts, it is also a symptom of chronic dry eye syndrome.

If left untreated, blurriness may gradually worsen, or you may develop double vision.

If so, you may have trouble driving and reading. Sometimes, with blurry vision, it’s difficult or even impossible to work.

Headaches

While more research is needed, there may be a connection between headaches and dry eye. A population-based case study of more than 72,000 patients published by JAMA Ophthalmology (2019) found that people who suffer from migraine headaches are more likely to have dry eyes compared to the general population.

It’s not clear why. Being female and of an advanced age “play an important role in determining the strength of this association,” the researchers said.

Depression

A 2015 study, published in the journal Cornea evaluated the connection between dry eye disease and depressive symptoms in more than 6,000 women. Researchers found that women diagnosed with dry eye had a higher likelihood of developing depressive moods, anxiety, and psychological stress.

While the connection isn’t fully understood, researchers noted that some medications for treating depression have a drying effect on the eyes, and that dry eye syndrome may limit a person’s participation in activities, to the point where they may become anxious, withdrawn and depressed.

If left untreated, chronic dry eye can lead to complications. The first step in determining the cause of your symptoms and how to treat them is a visit with your eye doctor.

Schedule an appointment with Whetstone Eye Care to help find the right treatment options for you, to increase the quality of your tears and improve the quality of your life.

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, and Ave Maria, all throughout Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: How do I know if I have dry eye syndrome?

  • A: If you experience itchiness, light sensitivity, tearing and tired eyes it could be a sign that you have dry eye syndrome. If you experience these symptoms regularly, get your eyes checked out by an eye doctor, who can officially diagnose your symptoms and offer treatment.

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Various things can cause dry, itchy eyes. Some of the most common causes include blocked glands, sensitivity to the environment (wind, air pollution), infrequent blinking, certain medications, contact lenses and demodex mites.

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Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 239-908-4098

Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

sleepy mornings 640Waking up in the morning is hard enough, but waking up with stinging, burning eyes is even worse! If your eyes feel itchy and scratchy, this miserable morning sensation may be caused by dry eye syndrome. Your tear glands may be clogged or producing insufficient tears and oils to retain moisture.

But why do certain people experience more acute dry eye symptoms in the mornings? Here are some reasons:

What Causes Red, Itchy or Painful Eyes Upon Waking?

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close one’s eyelids completely during sleep. Since the surface of your eye is exposed at night, it becomes dry. Left untreated, this condition can damage your cornea.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyes caused by bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria are active at night, causing dry eye-related symptoms of redness, soreness and irritation upon waking.

Environment

A gritty sensation in your eyes can also be caused by the environment. For example, sleeping directly in front of or under an air vent, heating units, or ceiling fans can dry out your eyes. In addition, sensitivity to allergens like dust that accumulate in the bedroom can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.

Medications

Some types of over-the-counter and prescription medication can dehydrate the eyes. These include:

  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Hypertension drugs
  • Hormones
  • Drugs for gastrointestinal problems
  • Pain relievers
  • Skin medications
  • Chemotherapy medications

In the majority of cases, medication-related dry eye symptoms will resolve once you discontinue the meds. However, it may take several weeks or months for symptoms to completely disappear.

Age

Many people develop dry eye symptoms with age, as tear production tends to decrease and becomes less efficient as we grow older.

How to Treat Morning Dry Eye

Depending on the cause, morning dry eye can be treated with sleeping masks, lubricating eye drops and ointment applied right before bed. To ensure that you sleep in a moisture-rich environment, consider using a humidifier. In severe cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, eyelid surgery may be necessary.

If you are tired of waking up to red, burning eyes, visit your eye doctor for long-lasting relief. Contact Whetstone Eye Care to determine the cause of your morning dry eye and receive an effective treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Dry eye can occur if the glands in your eyelids don’t produce enough oil to keep your tears from evaporating, or if you don’t produce enough water for healthy tears. No matter the cause, it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and treated to protect your vision and ensure good eye health.

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: Dry eye is a chronic condition, so there’s is no cure for it. However, many treatment methods can help you manage this condition for long-term relief. If you have dry eye syndrome, we invite you to contact us to discover the best treatment for your needs.

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Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Ave Maria, all throughout Florida.

 

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 239-908-4098

4 Reasons Why Scleral Lenses Are a Big Deal

happy girl wearing contact lenses 640Scleral contact lenses have been called “life-changing” and “transformative” by patients who wear them.

What makes these contact lenses so revolutionary?

What Are Scleral Lenses?

Scleral lenses are contacts that vault over the entire cornea and rest on the white part of the eye (sclera). Their diameter is much larger than standard lenses, which adds to their comfort and compatibility with hard-to-fit eyes.

Here’s why they’re gaining popularity in the contact lens world and why patients and doctors are calling sclerals a big deal.

1. Sclerals are Ideal for People with Corneal Irregularities or Dry Eyes

There was a time when patients with corneal irregularities or severe dry eye syndrome weren’t able to wear contact lenses at all, due to the discomfort associated with direct corneal contact. Nowadays, patients with keratoconus, other corneal aberrations or dry eye can successfully wear scleral contact lenses and enjoy comfortable and crisp vision.

Scleral lenses are also great for patients with corneal dystrophy, high astigmatism, Sjorgren’s syndrome, corneal trauma and corneal ectasia, or who have undergone cataract surgery.

2. They’re Completely Custom-Made

Each pair of scleral contact lenses is custom-designed to gently and securely rest on your unique eyes. The fitting process for scleral lenses starts with corneal topography, where the optometrist creates a digital map of your eye’s surface. This information is then used to customize your perfectly fitted pair of sclerals.

3. They Offer Optimal Visual Clarity and Comfort

The liquid reservoir that sits between the lens and the eye helps enhance the visual optics of the lens. Moreover, scleral lenses are made of very high-grade materials and don’t place any pressure on the cornea, delivering ultimate all-day comfort. Many patients have reported that they comfortably wear sclerals for up to 14 hours a day, which is longer than the wear time for standard soft contact lenses.

4. They Promote Eye Healing

Scleral contact lenses protect the eye by surrounding it with an oxygen-permeable, liquid-filled chamber. This hydrating environment gives the eye the moisture and oxygen it needs to stay healthy and ward off outside irritants.

This can also explain why scleral lenses promote healing of the eye’s surface, whether after a corneal transplant or when recovering from a chemical burn or other eye injury.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a corneal condition that prevents you from wearing standard lenses, consider scleral lenses. To schedule an appointment or to learn more, call Whetstone Eye Care in Naples today!

Whetstone Eye Care serves patients from Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Ave Maria and throughout Florida.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Ray C. Whetstone

Q: #1: How long do a pair of scleral lenses last?

  • A: Scleral lenses can last 1-2 years before requiring replacement. Your optometrist will provide you with instructions on how to wear and care for your lenses to keep them feeling fresh and clean, day in day out.

Q: #2: Are scleral lenses expensive?

  • A: Just like any other customized product, scleral lenses tend to be more expensive than standard soft contact lenses. Although they have a higher price point, most patients who wear them will tell you that their comfort, visual clarity and stability make them worth the cost.
Request A Scleral Lens Appointment
Can Scleral Lenses Help You? 239-908-4098
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